I’m embarrassed to admit it, but last week I opened a jar of salsa that was softly blue and fuzzy. Turns out that neglecting it in the back of the fridge wasn’t the best thing for it.
While it is easy to forget about a jar of salsa, those of us who are married have a remarkable treasure that may be suffering from lack of care—our life’s companion.
Homeschool moms have a certain strength that can become a vulnerability: We are focused on our children. We care about what happens to them, and we invest our money and energies into them. Sometimes, our whole purpose is motherhood and homeschooling.
Then the kids grow up and move away. And then we wake up and feel the grief of the loss of our children and of our purpose. As one friend puts it, “When the end comes . . . .”
How To Avoid An Expiration Date On Your Marriage
After my children graduated, I walked around for a year in an empty house wondering what to do with my life. I felt alone. I felt like a tube of toothpaste that was all squeezed out.
While we are pouring ourselves out like water from a pitcher, we do not realize that we may be neglecting our marriage. When no children are around to buffer the relationship, will we be uncomfortable with the man we married or wonder if we would be happier elsewhere?
Will we run up against an expiration date on our marriage?
I eventually remembered that I had a husband. Then grandchildren came along. Recently, something else happened that altered our lives tremendously, but I’ll save that for later in this article.
How can overwhelmed homeschoolers have a marriage that weathers the beatings it gets? How can we women have the kind of man we can grieve with, laugh with, and enjoy life with during and after homeschooling?
Here are three powerful suggestions that have helped me and others avoid an expiration date on our marriage!
1. Spend time with one another.
One day, the children will be out of your house. Become friends with your husband now. Go on dates, the kind where you look at each other and connect on some level. Take walks. Read a book to one another as you fall asleep. Play games. Pray. Walk through Lowe’s together and dream about home improvements. If your husband travels, arrange to go with him occasionally.
Be intentional about spending time together. Put it on your calendars. Find common interests and activities. My husband and I have been playing the board game UpWords together Sunday evenings for over twenty-five years. It is shared experiences that help bind couples together and keep them strong. When I asked my friend Debbie what she and her husband of thirty-five years do to keep their marriage healthy, she texted back, “We’re spending the afternoon together so we can do just that.”If your calendar is filled with kid stuff and you have little time to develop a companionship with your husband, consider cutting back on some of the kid stuff.
2. Be friends to one another.
Most of us married our best friends, but in our busy-ness, it’s easy to lose touch with the man and the qualities that endeared him to us. The Old Testament writers often used the word hesed (or chesed) when describing God’s love for us. It is sometimes translated love or mercy, but often it is translated loving kindness. I love that description. It explains that God shows his love for us by doing something. It’s practical and demonstrative. What can each of you do for the other that shows your love? Understand your love languages? Learn what his are.
3. Get help when you need it.
There’s no shame in going to a counselor. This person can give advice or, at the very least, be a neutral third party who can help you hash things out or find your way. Jen and her husband have gone to a counselor twice in their thirty-eight-year marriage: once to get help on a difficult decision and once for her husband to break a habit detrimental to their marriage. She says, “Get counsel when there’s trouble. Don’t ignore it.”
My husband and I were having dinner at a local restaurant recently when the waitress asked, “Are you two celebrating an anniversary?”
“Sort of,” my husband said. “Today we’ve been married fifteen thousand days.”
Yeah, he’s that kind of guy. He likes numbers. He figured out the date when I’d been married to him exactly half of my life. Ditto for him. And now, fifteen thousand days of marriage.
It was a meaningful milestone to celebrate, especially as we’ve come through an awful lot together and are still in painful situations.
After layoffs, at least ten moves, financial troubles, illnesses, untimely deaths of family members, surgeries, graduating three children from homeschool, and the ever-present pace of life, we are now caring for my elderly mother who has moved in with us. This is that huge adjustment I was telling you about earlier.
If my husband and I were not purposeful about spending time together, the extra involvement and stress of this new situation would cause us to drift apart.
One day, your nest will be empty. Look across the table at your husband. What can you do now to sow seeds of friendship with him so you’ll be strong together in the aftermath? What can you do to avoid an expiration date on your marriage?
Whatever it is, keep at it. It will be worth it.
Sharon Watson was forced to retire from homeschooling after eighteen years when she ran out of children. When she isn’t avoiding cleaning her desk, she enjoys playing with her granddaughters or watching her husband play softball.
Jump In, her middle school writing curriculum published by Apologia Press, and The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School are two of her popular courses. Recently, she’s added an Illuminating Literature series for teens. Visit her website for fun weekly writing prompts for grades 5-12. Connect with Sharon on Facebook or Pinterest!
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